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Minnesota Independent editors talk site shutdown

The Minnesota Independent is shutting down, according to its editor and the company's CEO.

Jon Collins took the job as site editor earlier this summer but was laid off yesterday around noon, Collins confirmed to City Pages. The move came as a bit of a surprise to Collins, who thought the site was doing well.

"The Independent's been around for quite a while, five or six years; a lot of awesome reporters have gone through it," Collins said. "I kind of thought it would be around for a little bit longer, but what can you do?"

The site was "one of the more successful" sites in the American Independent News Network, Collins said, in terms of page views and good journalism.

"Andy Birkey, who I worked with, is one of the best LGBT reporters in the country," Collins said. "He's really, really good. He gets lots of what the American Independent refers to as 'impact.'"

Minnesota Independent's parent company CEO announced in a post on the website that MN Indy was closing down as part of a strategic shift toward unspecified "new forms of journalism" that'll be available at AmericanIndependent.com.

"This is part of a shift in strategy, towards new forms of journalism made available as technology has advanced, and an increasing emphasis on national coverage and issue-based coverage from our network," wrote David S. Bennahum, CEO and founder of the American Independent News Network.

Bennahum's posting rankled some former staff members.

Former editor Paul Schmelzer points out the post doesn't address the report, first published by MinnPost's David Brauer, that the network has been sold to Media Matters.

Schmelzer told City Pages he hopes Minnesotans remember that a number of great journalists went through Minnesota Independent and added, "Somebody good should hire Jon Collins and Andy Birkey."

Despite being laid off, Collins expects to continue working in media.

"I'm going to collect as many consolation drinks as I can, then look for another job in journalism," Collins said.


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